Wing Tommy Seymour is Scotland’s main injury doubt ahead of today’s announcement of the team to face Ireland in Saturday’s crucial NatWest Six Nations match against Ireland in Dublin.
Seymour departed last month’s 25-13 win over England with 15 minutes to go suffering from a back complaint and has not trained with the squad so far this week.
Full-back Stuart Hogg also missed Monday’s training with a lower-back issue but took part in yesterday’s session at the squad’s Oriam base.
Head coach Gregor Townsend is likely to name much the same side as he has in the past two victories over France and England but there could be tweaks as Scotland look to post a landmark away win over the formidable Irish and lay down a marker for title contention.
Seymour was replaced by debutant Blair Kinghorn towards the end of the Calcutta Cup triumph and, with Tim Visser injured, the Edinburgh 21-year-old, whose specialist position is full-back, could be given a first start if the Glasgow player fails to make it, although Sale winger Byron McGuigan was one of the ten players added by Townsend on Monday.
WP Nel is likely to be promoted from the bench to start at tighthead after making his injury comeback off the bench against England. Zander Fagerson also re-joined the squad after recovering from a foot injury and, along with the likes of centre Alex Dunbar and hooker Fraser Brown, could strengthen the replacements.
The return of experienced Richie Gray, who proved his fitness and form for Toulouse at the weekend, could lead to him being paired once again with his brother Jonny in the second row, although Edinburgh’s Grant Gilchrist has been performing extremely well in the 65-cap man’s injury absence.
Seymour and Hogg’s back-three colleague Sean Maitland didn’t seem too concerned when asked about the pair yesterday.
“I don’t know what happened to Hoggy, but Tommy seems like he is getting better. I think they’ll be fine… if they get picked. We’ll see,” said the Saracens wing and Calcutta Cup tryscorer.
In-form hooker Stuart McInally, meanwhile, is relishing the prospect of facing the table-toppers and world’s third-ranked team in their own fortress on Saturday.
“We are under no illusion that this will be our hardest challenge yet,” said the Edinburgh forward. “The strength they have all across the park. They are so well coached by Joe Schmidt and have had real consistency for a number of years. Doing it over there will be special knowing how important a win would be for us and what a win would do for us. We are putting all our efforts into this one game and will see where it takes us. We are in a great position in the table.”
That position is down to the past two home wins and McInally is well aware that, for Scotland to be taken seriously, their dreadful away record in this tournament needs to be put right.
“We have beaten some good teams away from home,” he insisted, pointing to the win over Australia in Sydney last summer. “In that first game of the Six Nations [a 34-7 defeat in Wales] we were sloppy and slow.
“I am not too worried that it is an away form thing. We are well into this competition and have a clear strategy to go over there and win.
“There is no denying we are better at home rather than away in the Six Nations. The stats will tell you that. There is no doubt in our minds we can go over there and win. We just have to put our best foot forward.”